Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
As an artist, my major focus is on painting. I specialise in still life and landscape and I am obsessed with colour. It is the driving force in all my work. I have developed a style I call ‘fragmatism’. Where semi-abstract images float, dissolve and fragment across the canvas.
Garden of Eden
I come from a design background, having been a graphic designer for over 25 years, I have always strived for a creative life. Design has given me a foundation and discipline that has helped structure my creative life. It has also gave me a job that paid the bills.
I currently paint out of my garden studio in Sydenham. I balance this with teaching private art classes and workshops as well as a bit of freelance design work. I live with my husband, Mike and my studio critic, Sketch, the cat.
I love helping others discover their own creative path too. I ran an art school for over a decade and I have also been an EDTV Arts presenter where we streamed live art classes to schools throughout Australia. I’ve hosted life drawing classes for years and I have run art events and art parties. I now host annual workshops in Fiji, and teach one-to-one art classes.
Where do you get your inspiration from when you paint?
Connections to our environment and the objects that fill them, are themes that continue to inspire my creative practice. My subject matter tends to gravitate towards locations which are ‘water bound.’ I also love transforming everyday items into vibrations of colour. I love dramatic colour, so I am drawn to places and subjects with strong light and shadow.
Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?
My first part time job was as an assistant in a store called ‘House and Garden’. I would spend hours filling fancy toothpicks and spoons into small display baskets. I also got to set up home ware displays. Funny… I had to wear an apron back then when I was 16… I’m still wearing one, it’s just that it’s covered in paint now!
I was always creating and making a mess at home. There was always some art project my mother was asking me to clean up off the table so we could eat our dinner!
When I left school I was desperate to stay in the arts, but I needed some skills that might get me a steady job. I went off and did my Graphic Design Degree at Newcastle Uni. I came to the big smoke, Sydney, where I was always employed as a Designer and Studio Manager. But the Design world just didn’t seem to offer me enough creative satisfaction and I became very frustrated. As a side project I opened an Art School with a business partner in Mosman. This opened the doors to a life more focused on ‘artistic expression’. I enjoyed teaching and organising to yearly schedules for over 12 years. After this, I decided that I needed to dedicate more time to my own art practice in order to help it progress.
And here I am now. It is always a juggling act between work and art, but I am now much happier living a more ‘creative’ life and feel I am around more people who appreciate these attributes too.
Pineapple Studios in Fiji
How do you usually plan your daily activities?
Now that I have more time to dedicate to my art practice I have had to replan my days. We all know how easy it is for hours to slip away when you are just checking your emails and catching up on the arts in social media. So now I dedicate the morning hours from 9.30-12.30 to the studio. Just like you do if you go into the office. No phone, or emails in that time…’I’m working’. My afternoons are usually spent going to my students homes for private tuition. My students are mainly children, and I love helping them achieve their best. I am constantly surprised by what they can do if just guided in the right direction.
As an artist, what is your biggest frustration?
As any artist will tell you, there are a million speed humps in your art practice. The frustrations fluctuate from week to week. From not having enough time to paint, not being happy with the work you do when you get time to paint, to, not getting into shows, not getting any sales and not getting paid for the sales you get. But the most important thing is that you maintain your art practice and focus. One of the most difficult things I have had to learn (and I am still learning), is to ‘maintain my focus’. Keeping my mind on what I want to get out of my art practice. At the end of the day there are only so many things I can control, such as the quality and skill level of my work and the direction I want to take it to. Getting accepted into shows, sales and galleries involve many elements that I have no control over. Realising this, has really made a difference in how I approach my daily art practice.
Tell us about how you prioritise your art?
Slowly over time, I have been brave enough to put my art on the top of my list of daily events. So many of us consider creating art a luxury. Many consider it just a ‘nice thing to do’ but it is only when you decide to make it your vocation that the real work kicks in. I like to use Brett Whiteley’s term ‘a difficult pleasure’, when describing the process. Creating artwork is a pleasure, but if you want it to be good, there is often far more ‘difficult’ involved. As an artist, you can’t really have one without the other. I have had to train myself to understand that my art has to take priority over other things. I have to ‘choose’ art. If you really love creating, then the things you can’t do because you are creating won’t feel like any sacrifice at all.
Painting in Fiji
How do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?
Creating art is great, but it’s a solo sport, and visual art is no good without an audience. I love discussing art with others and I have found this an invaluable element in my art life. Social media platforms have made it so much easier to connect and support your fellow artists. Facebook and Instagram really help build your art audience and knowledge, and it’s right there at your finger tips. I have a website where collectors can see my work too. I have also found that belonging to art groups also you in the loop with competitions, galleries and shows. I am a member of the local Art Society and participate in a weekly life drawing sketch club.
It is vitally important to me to support my fellow artists in their own art careers too. I try and go to as many art shows as I can. It is really important to turn up to openings and shows. I love being part of the art community and showing that you will your make the effort for others is one of the most powerful ways you can support them. You never know what opportunities may arise from communing at these events. You also learn so much more when you go to exhibitions, if nothing else eventuates, it’s all great experience that will only improve your own art practice and display your passion for the industry. And passion is infectious.
EDTV in Action
Your advice to artist who are just starting out?
No. 1 tip: Don’t wait to get started. Get on with it and start making art. Give yourself permission to do it. And, just do it! As quoted by Andy Warhol ‘Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it is good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art’.
No 2 tip: Learn as much as you can about art, read about art practices, go and look at real art, learn about other artist’s art practice. You can never learn too much!
Tell us about your up coming Solo Art exhibition at ArtSHINE Gallery?
I am very excited to be showing my new ‘Paradise’ collection at the ArtSHINE Gallery in June, from 6-27. It is based on my recent trips to Fiji and the bond the locals have with their environment. There is a joy that radiates from these tropical islands and it is this ‘joy’ that I hope to have translated through colour onto the canvas.
How did Business coaching help you and your art business?
The ArtSHINE Business Coaching has been a great stepping stone in making my art practice a much more professional one. It has helped me organise my process and structure my habits and administration. It allowed me to step back and review my progress and aspirations with fresh eyes. It offered me an opportunity to plan the direction I want my art career to take and it provided me with the tools to do it.
What is your proudest moment so far?
Everything in my life has always been a slow burn. It has always taken a lot of planning and work. There has never been a quick fix to anything. I can’t say I have only ‘one moment’ I am most proud of. I have had many moments that have marked certain achievements such as, being selected as a Young Ambassador for Australia, receiving my Design Degree, getting my first job, setting up an Art School, getting married, purchasing a home, selling my first artwork, having my first solo show and receiving a full scholarship to the Art Students League of New York.
My daily ‘proud moments’ come from teaching others how to discover their own creativity and spending time in the studio painting.
Who do you most want to meet and why?
There are many artists that have inspired me that I would love to have a chat with, but most of them are no longer with us! I would love to discuss colour and mood with Clarice Beckett, composition with Kandinsky and technique with Van Gogh and Margaret Olley. It would be so great if you could show them how much of an impact they have on the artists of the future. It would be great if they got to know that the rest of the world did eventually understand their work.
What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?
Never wait for anyone else to create your opportunities. Get on with it and work hard at what you want to do. Turn up and make art no matter how many minutes you do a day. Do something now. Fight for your art life, and never surrender your creativity. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. Nothing you do is wasted.
What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?
I tend to listen to audio books more than read these days. I use them a lot when I am painting. I have just finished a wonderful novel by Susan Vreeland called ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’. A great story on the creation of Renoir’s painting of the same name.
One of the most fascinating books I have listened to lately is Giorgio Vasari’s ‘Lives of the Artists’. He was an Italian artist during the Renaissance, but became more famous for these anecdotes regarding contemporary artists of the time, such as Giotto, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo. A great insight into their working methods, you soon understand that the art world has always a complicated one, where talent is only one of the ingredients to the longevity as an artist.
Where do we find you and your products?
You can find out more about me on my own website: www.kristineballard.com
I am represented in Queensland by the 19Karen Gallery: www.19karen.com.au/artists/kristine-ballard/
In Melbourne I am with the Manyung Gallery: www.manyunggallery.com.au/Artist-Detail.cfm?ArtistsID=1485
I am with the ArtShine Gallery in Sydney: www.artshinegallery.com
And if you are keen to come to the tropics for a little creativity, you can book a spot for my workshop next January 2017 at the beautiful Koro Sun Resort. (40% OFF only til end of May). www.korosunresort.com/creative-art-workshop-2017/
You can also connect to me on social media:
TWITTER: Kristine Ballard@ArtistBallard